What Is the Car Accident Claim Process Like?

Madeleine Jones
March 11, 2019

After an auto accident, you may not know your rights or how to seek compensation for your damages. You know you were not at fault for the wreck, but where do you turn now for financial recovery? Can you trust car insurance companies to do what is best for you? Although each case is unique, the basic claims process remains essentially the same in Nevada. Knowing what to expect can help you protect your rights.

Call the Correct Insurance Company

States follow either fault or no-fault auto insurance rules. Nevada is a fault-based insurance state. In a fault-based state, victims of car accidents will seek financial benefits from the at-fault party’s insurance company. You or an investigator will need to determine fault for the car accident. This may take evaluating evidence, speaking with eyewitnesses, and hiring experts. Once you know who caused your crash, you will call that entity’s insurance company to file an official claim. You generally need to call to report the crash as soon as possible, but not longer than 30 days after.

Answer Questions, But Do Not Admit Fault

During the claims process, you will answer questions about your crash. Stick to the facts, and do not offer any information unless asked. After giving your initial accident report, expect a call back from an insurance claims adjuster shortly. A claims adjuster is a professional agent responsible for reviewing your case and issuing an acceptance or denial. Claims adjusters generally know less than you do about your case, and will either work for the at-fault party’s insurer or a third party the insurer hired.

Never admit fault while on the phone with a claims adjuster. Do not say you caused the crash, and do not say you have no injuries until you have seen a doctor. Refuse to give a recorded statement. The law does not obligate you to give one, and doing so could hurt your case in the future. The insurance company could use what you say as proof against you later. If you do not feel comfortable talking to the claims adjuster, have a lawyer do so for you. Otherwise, you could accidentally compromise your case.

Negotiate a Fair Settlement

After reviewing your case and any requested documentation, the insurance claims adjuster will decide whether to accept your claim. If the insurance company accepts your claim, it will try to resolve it by offering you a settlement. The settlement should cover your accident-related losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. The insurance company’s goal will be to convince you to settle for as low an amount as possible. It is wise not to accept a first settlement – or any settlement, until you have spoken to an attorney.

Once you say yes, you typically cannot change your mind and reject the offer. You will also give up your right to take the at-fault party to court. Hiring a lawyer to take care of settlement negotiations for you can prevent you from accepting an unfair offer. A Las Vegas auto accident lawyer will evaluate your total past and future losses to give you an estimate of what a fair and full amount of compensation would be. Your attorney can then take over negotiations on your behalf, to make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you.

Receive Fair Compensation

Although most cases settle without going to trial, if settlement negotiations with the company do not work, your attorney can take your car accident case to court. A lawsuit against the negligent party could result in a better outcome depending on your situation. Either way, your Las Vegas injury lawyer can improve your odds of securing a fair settlement or jury verdict for your accident-related losses. Upon the closing of your case, you should receive a check for your damages in the mail within two weeks.